TEACHERS (1984)

Directed By: Arthur Hiller
Written By: W.R. McKinney
Cinematography: David M. Walsh 
Editor: Don Zimmerman 

Cast: Nick Nolte, Jobeth Williams, Judd Hirsch, Ralph Macchio, Allen Garfield, Lee Grant, Richard Mulligan, Laura Dern, Crispin Glover, Morgan Freeman, Steven Hill, William Schallert, Mary Alice, Anthony Heald Virginia Capers, Royal Dani, Art Metrano 

A teacher overcomes his frustration in a high-school full of flunkies. As he attempts to educate his students, he attempts to help them gets him into trouble with the school board, which only adds to his problems. With the support of his students, he beats the school board and his frustration.


This film is in the same vein as AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. Where it is a darkly satirical look at a system that wasn’t working. For that film, it was legal and the justice/court system. In this case public high school and just how dangerous it was for students and faculty. As you had kids who were uninterested and unmotivated. Teachers who were burnt out, scared, or don’t care and the unions and powers that be whose hands are tied or want them to do the best that they can with what they have yet offer no hope.

Now, while this film isn’t as sharp or necessarily as heavy as that film they do share a kinship. As well as with films like THE HOSPITAL and NETWORK (both of those written by Paddy Chayefsky) these are meant to be more ensemble films with a central figure in the lead who is riding on both sides until the end. Where they finally have to show where they stand and make some kind of difference even if ultimately lose.

This film is interesting as it can be funny. Especially pinpointing Richard Mulligan’s character, a teacher who gets into character to inspire his students and actually gets through to them. Before finding out he is an escaped mental patient.

What keeps the film lively is that one minute it can be gritty and dealt with seriously but then the next goes for a laugh that is more character-based comedy and less broad. 

Though there are many characters this film mainly focuses on Nick Nolte who is burnt out it actually seems to be the rare teacher who gives a damn. Though he wants to be a team player he has a reckless rebelliousness to him.

This role fits note to a The cuts an imposing figure but comes off quite intellectual. He is rugged throughout and tries his best but whenever he seems to be getting somewhere he has another bureaucratic door slammed in his face. This is a vintage performance from him where he is unpredictable but lively throughout. 

Nick Nolte is a famous actor. For me, he is an actor I discovered while looking for somebody else. He usually starred or Co-Starred in movies I initially watched for some other actor who was in the film for instance 48 HOURS I watched for Eddie Murphy and he co-Starred in it. I watched DOWN & OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS for Bette Midler he Co-Starred in it. I watched this film initially to see Ralph Macchio. He made this before KARATE KID, but I discovered it after he starred in that film.

The film has a recognizable cast. That looking back is impressive and all out to good use. The town of the film does become more serious after the death of a character.

Watching the film these days barely raises an eyebrow. But I remember when first seeing it felt scandalous like an expose almost. As it seems to try to shine a light on the problems of the then-current education system. Some of those problems still exist and some have gotten worse. It seems to try to take a bite but there is so much to chew it can only get to a certain amount of pieces presented.

This is a film that is worth watching to see how a film can make a point and bring up issues. By being gritty but also offering a light touch to round out and let the audience off somewhat. 

Grade: B

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Edited, Cinematography, Written & Directed By: David Lynch

Cast: Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Grace Zabriskie, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd, Julia Ormand, Mary Steenburgen, Masiumi Max, Amanda Foreman, Terry Crews, Jordan Ladd, Ian Abercrombie, Cameron Daddo, Jerry Stahl, Nastassja Kinski

A blonde actress is preparing for her biggest role yet, but when she finds herself falling for her co-star, she realizes that her life is beginning to mimic the fictional film that they’re shooting. Adding to her confusion is the revelation that the current film is a remake of a doomed Polish production, 47, which was never finished due to an unspeakable tragedy.


I’m sorry I didn’t know what was going on half the time watching this film. It seems a film that is made more to test your interpretation or at least seems more like an art installation as film. Though truthfully might be the pinnacle and thesis of David Lynch’s filmography. Throwing any linear content out the window practically.

This seems more a film born out of his imagination and a kind of statement for him. As after all Supposedly This movie started with a phone call Laura Dern received from David Lynch asking if she wanted to come and experiment with him. That started the journey as the movie was filmed over several years and both of this films stars admit they don’t understand or what is going on in the film.

This movie makes every David Lynch movie from BLUE VELVET to MULLHOLLAND DRIVE look mainstream. This film is dark at times yet continuously feels unfocused for the audience while David Lynch directs with a sure hand. he does all the work here on his own for the most part it seems behind the scenes. So this is more his total creation. This is like an abstract painting brought to life on film. I think even if you are a David Lynch an this will test your boundaries of love for him.

In this movie there are scenes and shots of such beauty that only last a limited amount of time soon the film becomes tedious because it’s over two hours long. Now yes Andy Warhol would have loved it and called it a masterpiece and so will a lot of pretentious art film fans. Maybe it is. Maybe It’s just an abstract artist wavelength.

Now Mr. Lynch is a talented filmmaker, even in it’s moody overtones. Each scene breathes with life and opportunities that could take to scene and movie into parallel choices but it seems to just soldier on. Just like there are scenes where the film gets very interesting and seems to move only to be cut short abruptly and disappear.

I did really admire  the camerawork and the end credits sequence as well as some scenes and Laura Dern’s performance as she is in the whole film and has to somewhat figure out what is going on as well as be surprised as she goes along throughout. Her performance I can understand. Because she gives it her all and she is challenged at each turn and gives all she can at each turn. Bringing some kind of understanding and emotion into all of this darkness.

The reasons you think but for the fluid camera movement and music selection. This is a should have been movie especially with the ending. I believe we look for meaning or at least a linear story in David Lynch films and when he doesn’t give it to us. We try to read too much into it and maybe give little things that are non sensical more meaning that it has. It could be just a glitch but these directors who don’t speak on their films really are hiding the secret because audiences praise them as geniuses and all it is is a mistake plain and simple or something that was forgotten looked on or couldn’t afford to fix. But the audience feels the director is being subtle or that audiences just don’t get it. Maybe we do more than you but you believing yourself to be superior and needing to have something to believe in or influenced by your artistic friends taste or maybe I’m an idiot who knows this isn’t a philosophy class. I just wanted to state my beliefs.

This is one of those films I believe film lovers and fans of lynch need to see. Though I can say definitely watch it after you have seen all of his other films and can’t say you will enjoy it. Though there is nothing like it and it’s a movie I will say I will most likely only watch once. From what I can understand is that Laura Dern is playing in a movie that is a remake of cursed early black and white film. From the line between reality and film and film within a film are blurred. Sorry I didn’t like it but I do like other Lynch movies just not this one.

GRADE: C-

SMOOTH TALK (1985)

Directed by: Joyce Chopra 

Written By: Tom Cole

Based on the short story “Where are you going, Where have you been” By: Joyce Carol Oates 

Cinematography: James Glennon 

Editor: Patrick Dodd 

Cast: Laura Dern, Treat Williams, Mary Kay Place, Levon Helm, Elizabeth Berridge, Margaret Welsh, William Ragsdale 

A free-spirited 15-year-old girl flirts with a dangerous stranger in the Northern California suburbs and must prepare herself for the frightening and traumatic consequences.


Most of the movie is built up around the third act or really a scene. The lead up to it that helps bail itself out. Though it seems the filmmakers used the scene to help fill in the blanks as far as characters.

I remember seeing the poster for this movie in video stores in my youth. Never knew what it was about and also got it confused with a few films Laura Dern was in including SMOOTH OPERATOR and BLUE VELVET. As at the time it seemed like she was always playing the same types of roles. Only wish I knew about this film early before. As it probably would have enjoyed it more and been a nostalgic classic for me. 

As the film seems more to lead up to the finale. That doesn’t exactly match the rest of the film. As before it the film More wanders and stays with the main character. Where it seems like a modern-day teen’s life more coming of age in the times of mall culture. 

That is what the final scene is based on the short story by Joyce Carol Oates and the rest of the film built around it. Using little details to fill in the character and actions that lead to the final situation. 

As this offers a smaller Realistic look at female teen sexuality and how it affects others and a coming of age story that doesn’t have a sunny and rosy outlook.

He wants her to give herself to him but Is not above taking it by Force. As he is all Machismo and Tries to be charming and poetic but is full-on sleazy, Creepy predator trying to intimidate her. 

Has it’s 1980’s music cue moments of accompaniment that feels more of the time but laughable now and almost takes you out of the dynamics. 

A teen film whose appeal seems more aimed at adults. While the main character deals with shifting friendships as one friend who is more innocent fades into the background who doesn’t Want to join in on her adventures and her other friend who does and she gets closer. As another friend is also more aggressive and wild.

Her different difficulties with family and friends, her hostile mother, and her constant war. A father who is barely there and an older sister who has moved back home. 

The third act becomes very theatrical like a stage show almost. A dance that each character do around each other. Wanting different things but in a rhythm with one another. He seems like the big bad wolf. Hinted at earlier in the movie but then he makes his way to her and then the film

Becomes tension-filled. As he seems determined to take her innocence that she has been flirting with losing lately.

The film doesn’t offer any answers and leaves the ending to be ambiguous. Where we wonder so many things like. Where did he come from? Was any of this real? If so did she bring this on to herself because of her behavior? Did she attract this trouble? Was it a worst-case scenario? Is this a kind of punishment or as she says she doesn’t Know. Was this a warning as to what could happen?

As the film tries to depict a teen’s life on the brink of adulthood. Who makes decisions that affect her and her life growing up too fast. This was why in the end she resorts to old routines and memories wanting to bathe into them and be around family as their problems seem to disappear. We are not sure what happened but it is suggested 

Grade: B

EVERYTHING MUST GO (2010)

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Written & Directed By: Dan Rush
Based on the Short Story “Why Don’t You Dance” By: Raymond Carver
Cinematography By: Michael Barrett
Editor: Sandra Adair 


Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher C.J. Wallace, Laura Dern, Michael Pena, Stephen Root, Glenn Howerton

After Nick is fired from his sales job, mostly because of his penchant for alcohol, he comes home and finds that his wife has kicked him and all of his stuff out of the house and onto the front lawn. He is pretty intent on just sitting in his chair, drinking beer, on the lawn. His cop friend, Frank Garcia, thinks he should at least pretend to have a yard sale to make it legal. He slowly starts making friends with a neighborhood kid who needs something to do, and a pregnant wife who has just moved in across the street, and Nick finds himself moving on and selling all his stuff.

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LADIES AND GENTELMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS (1982)

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Directed By: Lou Adler
Written By: Nancy Dowd  (Credited As: Robert Morton)
Cinematography By: Bruce Surtees
Editor: Tom Benko

Cast: Diane Lane, Laura Dern, Ray Winstone, Christine Lahti, Paul Cook, Steve Jones, Peter Donat, David Clennon, Brent Spiner, Debbie Rochon

The media and disaffected teens mistake the acerbic rants of an obnoxious teenage punk rocker as a rallying cry for the women of America, launching her and her talentless group to national stardom.

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MARRIAGE STORY (2019)

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Written & Directed By: Noah Baumbach
Cinematography: Robbie Ryan
Editor: Jennifer Lame 

Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johannson, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Laura Dern, Julie Hagerty, Wallace Shawn, Merrit Wever, Mickey Sumner, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Irene Choi, Robert Smigel, Carlos Jacott, Lucas Neff 

An incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

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COLD PURSUIT (2019)

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Directed By: Hans Petter Moland
Written By: Frank Baldwin
Based On The Film KRAFTIDIOTEN Screenplay By: Kim Fupz Aakeson
Cinematography: Philip Ogaard
Editor: Nicolaj Monberg 


Cast: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, William Forsythe, Tom Bateman, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, John Doman, Michael Eklund, Julia Jones, Elizabeth Thai 


A grieving snowplow driver seeks out revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son. Based on the 2014 Norwegian film ‘In Order of Disappearance’.

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CERTAIN WOMEN (2016)

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Written, Edited & Directed By: Kelly Reichardt
Based on Stories By: Malie Meloy
Cinematography By: Christopher Blauvelt 


Cast: Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, James LeGros, Lily Gladstone, Kristen Stewart, Jared Harris, John Getz, Rene Auberjonois, Ashlie Atkinson 


 Certain Women drops us into a handful of intersecting lives across Montana. A lawyer tries to defuse a hostage situation and calm her disgruntled client, who feels slighted by a workers’ compensation settlement. A married couple breaks ground on a new home but exposes marital fissures when they try to persuade an elderly man to sell his stockpile of sandstone. A ranch hand forms an attachment to a young lawyer, who inadvertently finds herself teaching a twice-weekly adult education class, four hours from her home.

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WILSON (2017)

Wilson

Directed By: Craig Johnson
Written By: Daniel Clowes (Based on His Graphic Novel)
Cinematography By: Frederick Elmes
Editor: Paul Zucker
Music By: Jon Brion 


Cast: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Jusy Greer, Margo Martindale, David Warshofsky, Cheryl Hines, Brett Gelman 


A lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged man reunites with his estranged wife and meets his teenage daughter for the first time.

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WILD (2014)

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Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallee
Written By: Nick Hornby
Based on the memoir “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” By: Cheryl Strayed Cinematography By: Yves Belanger 

Editor: John Mac McMurphy (Jean-Marc Vallee) & Martin Pensa 


Cast: Resse Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, W. Earl Brown, Gaby Hoffman, Kevin Rankin, Brian Van Holt, Cliff De Young

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